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Mysterious numbers under the lids of my L.C. pots- what do they refer to?

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I snatched every L.C. (and other high end pots/pans/kitchen items) during my divorce- so I have a pretty good collection of great cookware. The problem is, I can't make heads or tails of the numbers stamped on the lids, and I never really know the exact dimensions of each vessel. For example, I have a very large dutch oven that says "30" and in really tiny letters "D 40 (43?45?). 30 what? Cups? I have a smaller pot that says "20" "WF" "05". Another larger pot, "24" "D1" "WE", and a slightly smaller "tomato" pot that says "2.2" "2US(4)" "CC"? -- among others. Some say "France" and some say "Le Cruset, Made in France". The pans say "30" and "40", respectively. (I 'd love to find a "35"- whatever that is.)

I've gone on the Le Cruset website for clarification, but I'm still confused. Is it cups? I once added 20 cups of water to the pot marked "20" but they didn't fit. I wish they'd print the dimensions (l/w/h) or write "20 cups" if, indeed, that's what the numbers refer to. It's hard to look at my pieces, and compare them to the ones pictured on the site. I feel like taking a permanent marker to each one and marking it's REAL dimensions once I figure them out!

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  1. stuck, I don't know about the alphanumeric codes, but the straight numbers (30, 40, 20, etc.) are the dimensional measurements in centimeters and will tell you the diameter of the pot without the handles.

    To identify your pots, remeasure using cups of water the volume capacity of the pots you're unsure about, then visit the sites or look at the catalog listings of vendors selling to the U.S. You should be able to match them up by capacity (which is how all the vendors I see refer to the pots, anyway--i.e., capacity in quarts or litres, not in terms of dimensions).

    Consumers tend to measure the pots differently, anyway, from what I can read of users reviews. Some seem to include the handles in the diameter, some don't, some measure the total lid diameter, some the top of the pot, some the bottom of the pot, so on. So you'll have an easier time matching them by quart capacity.

    A couple of my LCs have the volume capacity marked on the inside cover. Some do not. Some say "France" and some say "Made in France".

    7 Replies
    1. re: Normandie

      Oh! Duh, I thought the numbers were referring to cups or capacity in some way-not the measurement, in cm of the diameter of the pot. I will pull out my tape measure to check. I assume, since they are providing a diameter measurement, that the "20" pot is 20 cm's across (mid-way up the sides of the pot). I can measure cups by adding water, but I'm not sure whether to measure to the tippy top, or some other height. Perhaps I'll measure against the All-Clad pots, which provide a specific quart measure (or lat least they better).

      But, then, why are the baking pans labeled 30 and 40? Can't be the diameter, can it? I'll check. *sigh*

      1. re: stuck in Hartford County

        Oh, I don't know about the baking pans, stuck. I don't have any LC ECI baking pans; only one LC loaf pan in ceramic. It's marked "07.26" on the back, and that doesn't seem to correspond to its measurements, either in CMs or inches.

        As for measuring the pots, it *might* depend on the shape; I'm not sure and perhaps someone else can tell us. I looked at one of mine that is fairly straight sided and the number corresponds to the top opening; one that is *slightly* sloped and the number corresponds to the bottom of the pot. But when I look at the types that are clearly wider at the top of the pot than at the bottom (i.e., the bouillabaisse and the soup pots, and the casseroles) the numbers clearly refer to the top openings of the pots.

        1. re: Normandie

          Interesting. What a PITA it is- who really cares what the diameter of a soup pot is, anyway? And to tell the truth, the baking "pans" weigh, like, a ton (although they look nice). I bet the 30 and the 40 refer to how many pounds they weigh- probably should have clobbered the ex with the big one!

          1. re: stuck in Hartford County

            Either how much they weigh or what our monthly payments for them will be for the next ten years. ;-)

            As for the diameter, or dimensions, I did check on those of a couple of pots before I bought them, because I was trying to figure out what size I needed to fit a whole chicken, a roast, etc. Plus, I wanted to check the height of one FO because I have a slide-out rack that's a pain to adjust when a pot is too high. So those are some of the reasons someone might want to know. Plus I know that some of our posters here have the LC shelf-rack and need to know diameters because of that.

            But the ridiculous thing is that when I went to ask the vendors directly (online vendors, I mean), they couldn't tell me. W-S took ten days just to email me to tell me they didn't know, and would have to check with LC. :-O Who knew these numbers were such well guarded secrets! So, I emailed LC and they answered me in about three hours. :-) When in doubt, go to the source.

            1. re: stuck in Hartford County

              "Who really cares what the diameter of a soup pot is, anyway?"

              I have 3 LC French Ovens, and I found the numbers (24, 26, etc.) to be quite handy because they indicate the size of the lid (in cm). It made it easy for me to order a glass lid of the proper size for each.

              1. re: tanuki soup

                LOL: "Hello, you stock Le Creuset? I'd like to order a soup pot please... Size?
                Oh, I don't think it matters much. Just send whatever size you have"

          2. re: stuck in Hartford County

            Baking pans are almost certainly largest dimension (ok, not diagonal) in cm. A standard domestic oven here in the UK will not really take anything over 42 cm.

        2. We'll see if this posts very cleanly or not.. I was looking for similar info on how to determine qt size based on those numbers. I found an ebay seller who had posted the following info and I saved it into a txt document. Hope this helps!

          *hopefully the cleanup helps this post better!

          The number on a Le Creuset oven/pot/pan refers to the diameter in centimeters (cm).
          Here is a list of the corresponding capacities, according to Le Creuset.
          There is some rounding.
          You'll notice that capacity cannot be determined by diameter alone, as diameters are 2 dimensional.
          Capacity varies based on the depth/shape.
          The Soup/Marmite looks like an oven, but is shaped like a bowl and only comes in the 22 size.
          A 22 round oven is 3.5 qt, while the soup is only 2.75 qt.
          This list is not all-inclusive.
          Update: The soup pot now comes in 4.25 qt and 7.5 qt, as well.

          Round Oven
          16: 1.3 liters (L) = 1.5 quarts (qt)
          18: 1.8 L = 2 qt
          20: 2.4 L = 2.5 qt
          22: 3.3 L = 3.5 qt
          24: 4.2 L = 4.5 qt
          26: 5.3 L = 5.5 qt
          28: 6.7 L = 7.25 qt
          30: 8.4 L = 9 qt
          34: 12.4 L = 13.25 qt

          Oval Oven
          23: 2.6 L = 2.75 qt
          25: 3.2 L = 3.5 qt
          27: 4.1 L = 4.25 qt
          29: 4.7 L = 5 qt
          31: 6.3 L = 6.75 qt
          (also comes in 9.5 qt)

          Saucepan
          16: 1.2 L = 1.25 qt
          18: 1.8 L = 2 qt
          20: 2.5 L = 2.75 qt

          Skillets/Grills/Roasters - multiply cm by 0.394 to get the length in inches

          Shallow Oven/Braiser
          26: 2L = 2.25 qt
          30: 3.2 L = 3.5 qt
          (also comes in 5 qt)

          Soup/Marmite
          22: 2.75 qt

          Heart Oven
          2 qt

          Round Wide Oven
          24: 3.5 qt
          (also comes in 6.75 qt) Oval Wide Oven comes in 5 qt, Goose Pot comes in 15.5 qt.

          Saucier
          17: 1 qt
          21: 2.25 qt
          24: 3 qt

          Iron Handle Skillet
          23: 9", 1 3/8 qt
          26: 10.25", 1.75 qt
          30: 11.75", 2 3/8 qt

          Deep Covered Skillet
          27: 10 2/3", 3.75 qt

          19 Replies
          1. re: grnidkjun

            Perfect. Thank you so much!

            1. re: stuck in Hartford County

              You are very welcome.. hopefully it's easier to view with the edits to clean it up. :)
              It may not be perfect but at least it's a starting point.

              1. re: grnidkjun

                That's great! Thanks. I shall save it. Of course, this doesn't address the (annoying) fact that earlier Le Creuset ran in different sizes for no apparent reason. For instance, I have a vintage braiser that only holds THREE quarts, not 3.5.

                Aggravation.

            2. re: grnidkjun

              Interesting - this thread got me curious about my own Le Creuset set, which I bought in the early '80s. The skillets match the above - 20, 23, and 30 cm. Two pots that my wife owned from before I met her also have cm numbers on the bottom

              But all the pots in my set have letters, not numbers, on the bottom of both the lids and the pots themselves. A small round one has a B, large round one an E, and a large oval one also an E. They can't be diameters, since the round and oval have the same marking. Maybe they're a code for capacity? I'm wondering if they changed the coding system from letters to numbers somewhere along the way?

              1. re: BobB

                My pots also have mysterious letters. Most of them were purchased in the mid to late 80's. Some in the early 90's. Many were wedding gifts (see my previous comment re: an alternate use for the "40" baking pan). I suspect they are related to production info.

                1. re: BobB

                  I'm pretty sure (not 100 percent positive, but "pretty sure") that pots that go to the outlets, at least currently, have a letter code to indicate whether they are "seconds" . For example, my bouillabaisse pot is a second and has a "B" stamped on the inside of the lid. I've only been to the outlet once, for my most recent purchase, but I *think* they told me that first and seconds that go to the outlets are stamped with a letter code. Then I just looked at a couple of pots that are not from the outlet and two of them have additional codes. One says "X3". Another one has a code like that, but in between looking at it and walking the ten feet back to my notebook here, I forgot what it was. :-)

                  1. re: Normandie

                    I'm pretty sure I bought mine (all the same color) as a set from one place all at one time. So I don't think the pots would be seconds and the pans first run.

                    1. re: BobB

                      I think you're right about that, Bob. I'm guessing so, anyway.

                      That bouillabaisse pot is definitely a second (not that anyone would be able to tell) and it's definitely marked with a "B". But I'm pretty sure that as long as you bought them from *any* authorized representative of LC, you would have been informed that some are seconds. So.......it's mystery to me, just like most of those markings.

                      1. re: Normandie

                        Actually, in thinking further on this, it's impossible that the letters represent seconds. They are imprinted into the pot by the mold used during the original casting of the molten iron, before the piece is finished and enameled, long before they would even know whether it passed all the tests to be a first or second quality item. It has to represent something inherent to the model.

                        1. re: BobB

                          Needless to say, you're making a lot of sense. *shrug* I dunno, Bob. Two sales representatives at the outlet tseparately old me this. One of them was very knowledgable about Le Creuset; the other seemed new and at least one other thing she told me didn't square with what I know about LC. But since you mentioned this, your observation is certainly logical.

                          1. re: Normandie

                            Wouldn't be the first time a sales person didn't know what they were talking about - and I can say that, having spent many years in sales. ;-)

                            1. re: BobB

                              LOL, Bob.

                              I think it may actually be a "human" infliction. And I can say that, having spent many years in...humandom.

                              :-D

                  2. re: BobB

                    I've been adding to my vintage Le Creuset via ebay and have sort-of figured it out; in round ovens the letter system corresponds to the centimeter measurements as follows:

                    A - 16: 1.3 liters (L) = 1.5 quarts (qt)
                    B - 18: 1.8 L = 2 qt
                    C - 20: 2.4 L = 2.5 qt
                    D - 22: 3.3 L = 3.5 qt
                    E - 24: 4.2 L = 4.5 qt
                    F - 26: 5.3 L = 5.5 qt
                    G - 28: 6.7 L = 7.25 qt
                    H - 30: 8.4 L = 9 qt
                    I - 34: 12.4 L = 13.25 qt

                    Bakeware, gratin dishes etc. I believe is cm's at the widest point, not counting handles. As for oval ovens - ?? have fun with that one ;-)

                  3. re: grnidkjun

                    Wow! Thank you so much grnidkjun. When you (or the text) say(s) that some diameter are two-dimensional, does that mean items like the soup pots, where the bottom is so much narrower than the top opening?

                    1. re: Normandie

                      No, what that means is that giving only the diameter (which defines two dimensions, width and length, the two being identical in a circle) tells nothing about capacity, for which you also need to know the depth. That's true even if a pot has perfectly straight sides. If the pot has sloping or curved sides, as you describe, the calculation is even trickier.

                      1. re: BobB

                        I know that those numbers represent the last two digits in there stock numbers.
                        So a #L2051-26 which is a 5qt round has a 26 on the lid

                        1. re: BobB

                          I see. Thank you.

                      2. re: grnidkjun

                        Thank you, grnidkjun! This helps with writing up recipes, so I can tell people what size pot to use for whatever yield. Now that I know how big my own pot is -- officially.

                        1. re: Vesna

                          glad I could help!